Brandon Ecoffey: Anti-Indian fighter lurks off radar in South Dakota

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley speaking to students earlier this year. Photo from Twitter

A note from the editor's desk
The wolf who lurks
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

Indian Country has dealt with the likes of Slade Gorton, John McCain, and other anti-Indian politicians in the past but there is one who is potentially far more dangerous than any of them lurking just off the radar.

South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley's most recent attempt to attack tribal sovereignty and economic development in Indian Country is without a doubt a preview of what is to come of his Indian policy should he be elected governor in 2018.

It's an open secret that this man who made his name by prosecuting bus loads of low level non-violent drug offenders has his eyes on the Governor's mansion in Pierre. While serving as South Dakota's AG he has utilized America's love affair with mass incarceration and the policies of the failed War on Drugs to position himself as the traditional hard on crime right wing candidate. This is all fine and dandy until you realize that the communities who have been hit the hardest by people like Jackley have been the poor and Native American communities across this state.

The Sioux Falls Argus leader described the situation best when they wrote "Jackley delivered yet another chapter in the Flandreau tribe’s marijuana story. It’s been a story marked by blundering and buffoonery. Of threats and authoritarian overreach. Of all-around jackassery."

Jackassery is a wonderful way of describing the state's decision to prosecute two non-native contractors who were assisting the Flandreau Sioux Tribe in setting up a planned marijuana resort within the boundaries of their sovereign nation.

The reason the Jackley went after the consultants was because he had no legal standing to go after the tribe. The state has no jurisdiction in Indian Country and the FST was prepared to stand on their sovereignty. The low hanging fruit in this case were the non-Native consultants.

While the majority of the country is finally beginning to recognize that America's drug problems cannot be solved by mass prosecution, but through measured legalization and addiction treatment for offenders --South Dakota has once again decided to buck the common sense trend. Instead of taking on a true conservative position on the matter Jackley has opted to over-prosecute like he always has.

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The plan for the resort had already been scrapped prior to the AG's announcement last week that he would pursue charges against two non-Native consultants who helped the Flandreau Sioux wade into the waters of marijuana legalization. Is this prosecution a message to the rest of America that investment in Indian Country will always be stifled by the state?

Instead of taking an opportunity to assist tribal-nations and improve commerce for all people in South Dakota, Jackley has decided to show the nation that this state is run by a bunch of backwoods bigots who could care less about effective public policy.

(Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and is an award winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He can be reached at editor@lakotacountrytimes.com)

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